Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Consitutional Anatomy - 003 - Economic & Social Rights

I woke up this morning with the lyrics of Boomba Clan's song Sina Habari. The exact line was where one asks "Nairobi Water niliwafanya nini, siwezi fua siwezi osha mwili" while fully soaped up in the shower but with no water from the shower head. Needless to say I was also having a dry tap morning. I remembered someone mentioning that with the new constitution, I could sue the government if they did not provide water. I decided to check it out and see exactly what it says.

[Aside] Checking out the constitution is now much easier thanks to a great new website called who get my two thumbs up for their fantastic effort. I wish though they would include a search on every page, and Previous/Next navigation as it would make the site so much more useful. Finding the article dealing with water was however much easier than the PDF file from COE that I've been using.

Article 43(1)(d) does give every person the right to clean and safer water in adequate quantities. However, in my case can I really enforce this against the state? The Fourth Schedule 11(b) makes water services a responsibility of the county government. If my tap is dry and I feel my constitutional rights have been infringed upon and that the constitution has been contravened, Article 258 gives me the right to institute court proceedings. I would bring such proceeding under the High Court which has jurisdiction under 165 (3)(b) to determine questions of infringement of rights.

Petty as complaining over water may sound, I am encouraged that Article159(2)(e) - which ensures that purpose and principle of the constitution is protected and promoted in the exercise of judicial authority - would get my taps running again.

Have you had a shower this morning?

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